FAMU holds tobacco symposium for students, staff

By: Brittany Bedi
March 21, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – Smoking can be a common habit that’s tough to break. Now, teachers, students, and the Florida Department of Health are hoping to spread a healthy message ahead of National “Kick Butts” Day.

Kevin Frentz works as a tobacco prevention specialist for the Florida Department of Health.

“Tobacco is still the leading preventable cause of chronic disease and death,” said Frentz. ”If we have limited resources to try to be able to educate people, we want to be able to educate people about something that’s preventable so that we can make some difference in [it], and tobacco is still the place to go.”

The groups are hosting a health symposium at 6:30 p.m. on March 21 in room 107 of the Allied Health Building. The presentation is free and open to FAMU students and staff.

Mary Simmons is the director of Cardiopulmonary Science at FAMU.

“Serving as an HBCU and how diseases affect the African American community, I think it’s important that they’re aware of the different diseases that are related to tobacco use,” said Simmons.

The presentation will cover how tobacco companies market to vulnerable people- ranging from kids, to underserved, or low-income populations. Over the years, organizers say that the program is making a difference at FAMU and the surrounding communities.

“I notice that near the common area where students are,” said Simmons. “They’ve placed their own 'No Smoking' signs up, so they’re really in agreement with the initiative and want to move forward.”

Organizers are also giving out free “Kick Butts Day” shirts and bags to help spread the message.

“Tobacco-free policies give people an opportunity to consider an attempt to quit,” said Frentz.

He hopes the symposium could at least encourage people to talk about striving for clean air in public.

National Kick Butts Day is Thursday, March 23. FAMU students and staff will host fun activities and educational games outside the Margaret W. Lewis and Jaqueline B. Beck Allied Health Building. They will also set up a graveyard demonstration to show how many people have died from tobacco.

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